One of the things my mother cooks for us when we get sick is Atole Blanco, the plain atole made with water and corn masa. Somehow as you drink it, it feels so good as the warm liquid is going down your belly. This drink is particularly good for its nutritional properties. It nurtures and helps hydrate the body of those who have been through some illness or diseases. It also helps keep your immune system at peak performance. The name Atole comes from the Nahuatl word atolli which means ‘watery”, its origin comes way back from Prehispanic times, when it was mostly prepared using corn, water and some type of sweetener. This is a thick drink that is served very hot. This drink is traditional sweetened using Piloncillo, sugar or honey, It can be made with or without milk. The corn is cooked, grinded and then diluted in water. This mix of water and ground corn is then cooked until it has a thick texture. This is what we call Atole Blanco or Atole de Masa (White Atole or Corn flour Atole). When the Atole is cooked this way, it can be the base to make many other types of atoles adding fruits, spices, herbs or seeds. The flavors will vary depending on the region. For people living in rural areas, it is still part of their daily meals. In the urban zones it is consumed for breakfast during cold mornings, at Christmas parties, religious events and other traditional celebrations.
There are other atoles that use rice, wheat, oatmeal, cornstarch, seeds, roots like sweet potatoes as a thickener. Although now in modern times, you can go to the local supermarkets and find the cornstarch or rice flour mixes in packages ready to make with different flavors. So convenient, right? Especially for the busy moms out there. But what about flavors? How many different flavors of atoles can we find. Well, when we talk about flavors, they are endless, some of the most common are: tamarind, pineapple, chocolate, strawberry, blackberry, guavas, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut, and almond. You can also find atoles using anise, lime, banana, plantain, pumpkin, black beans, peanut, with avocado leaves, orange leaves, orange blossoms, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, orange juice, plums, mango…well too many to mention them all, but I hope you get the idea of the numerous possibilities you have to prepare an Atole at home using this simple basic recipe as a foundation to start your own creations. Just be sure to avoid mixing fruits with an acidity content like pineapple, orange, lime, tamarind, etc., with a white atole using milk, the acidity of these fruits with spoil the milk. For those types of fruits use the simple white atole made using only water. It will be delicious, you will love it. My favorites Atoles are Pineapple or Tamarind atoles.
ABOUT 4 SERVINGS
- 4 cups whole milk*
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 6 Tablespoons corn flour (masa-harina)
- 3/4 cups water
- * You can use whole milk or any other milk of your preference.
- ** To make simple Atole (without the milk), substitute the milk for water.
2. In a small bowl, mix the corn flour the 3/4 cups of water. Stir well to avoid any lumps.
3. Once the milk comes to a boil, slowly whisk in the cornflour mix and bring to a boil again. Then, reduce heat to medium-low and keep simmering until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
The above picture shows the atole already thickened. Please be very careful before drinking it, it’s very hot! The thickness of the drink helps it maintain its heat for a long time.
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